The best, the worst and the future of a “model” career

Published on TalentEgg Career Incubator November 2009.

kelly-model-hairKelly Foss, 22, is a recent graduate of the Media, Information and Technoculture program at the University of Western Ontario. She has been modelling for six years, working in Canada, the Caribbean and Asia. She has also worked for CBC Television in Toronto, and has interned at the CBS show The Young and the Restless in Hollywood, California. Kelly is an avid writer and blogged about her experiences in Asia on

Q. How did you get into modelling?
A. When I was 16, I was at the mall with my mother and there was a modelling competition being advertised. I was sort of a tomboy, but my mother encouraged me to sign up so I tried out anyway. I ended up winning the contest and the organizer of the competition brought me to Toronto to meet with a bunch of agencies and I signed with BNM Models. I’ve been with them for six years now.

Q. How did you balance modelling with your education?
A. Education is very important to me and I knew I was going to go to university, especially since I received a scholarship. I modelled part-time throughout my undergrad, commuting to Toronto on the weekends so there were a lot of long train rides. I also tried to condense my class schedule to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday so I could get back to Toronto more often.

Q. How have your educational experiences helped you with what you are doing now?
A. When you are working in any type of media you need to know how to communicate with others and handle yourself in a professional manner and I had a lot of practice with that as a student and intern.

My degree also helped me to understand the media industry, and when I am at events I can really relate to the people I meet and impress them with my knowledge.

When I was modelling, I sometimes found I felt frustrated because I wasn’t applying all of the things I had learned in university, so blogging for really helped me to apply my communication skills to my current experiences.

Q. What obstacles have you encountered along the way?
A. The biggest thing is dealing with the demand changes in the industry. In the summer of 2008, I was modelling in Asia and the blonde foreign look was really in so I was in high demand, but this summer when I went back they were more interested in Eurasian models (Asian-European mix) so I had to deal with rejection.

Also, my look is more commercial than editorial, which is more edgy, so it’s less likely for me to book print editorials. But I believe everyone has something different to offer in the industry and I always make sure to stay positive and keep going because an opportunity will always come.

Q. What is the best part of modelling?
A. Modelling has given me opportunities to meet a lot of amazing contacts and network with a lot of great people in the modelling and entertainment industry.

My agent calls me ‘the queen of networking’ because I always find opportunities to meet interesting individuals that can potentially help me with my career anywhere I go. I used to be extremely shy and doing this has given me a lot of confidence.

Q. What is the worst part of modelling?
A. Getting treated like an object. It’s unfortunate that models get treated like they are stupid or just a piece of meat. But I just make sure to keep my head on straight and keep working hard.

Q. Where would you like to see yourself professionally in five years?
A. Right now I’m trying to figure out where I am headed next. I would like to continue modelling, but I am also thinking about acting and I actually just did a TV commercial for Häagen-Dazs ice cream that will be aired in the U.S.

I would also like to see myself in a newsroom at some point applying the skills I learned in university. My ultimate goal is to become a TV host for a lifestyle show, something like City Line or Steven & Chris.

Q. What are the most important qualities to have in this business?
A. Confidence: In this industry you will always come across rejection, but you should never question your ‘look’ because every client wants something different.

Time management: It is very important that a model is on time or you could lose a job opportunity.

Patience and positive behaviour: Sometimes the wait times at castings can go on for hours, jobs usually end up going overtime, and clients may frustrate models. You need to be patient and positive or the client may never use you again or give you a bad reputation. Plus, sometimes after attending a casting it can take up to a month to hear back about the job.



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